Tribe can’t sue in dual courts

Washington (AP) May 2011

The Supreme Court said the Tohono O’Odham Nation cannot press its lawsuit claiming mismanagement of tribal resources in two different federal courts at the same time.

The Arizona-based tribe sued in both U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in December 2006, complaining the federal government had mismanaged its reservation lands, mineral resources and income.

The Court of Federal Claims threw out the lawsuit filed in its court, saying it did not have jurisdiction and the two lawsuits were too similar. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reinstated the lawsuit, however.

The high court ruled in a 7-1 vote to throw out the lawsuit in the Court of Federal Claims again. The tribe’s lawsuit in the U.S. District Court was not affected by this ruling.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, and Justice Elena Kagan did not participate because she was involved with the case as solicitor general. 

The case is United States v Tohono O’Odham Nation, 09-846.